The MCD on Thursday said it will contest the Delhi High Court's interim stay order on the sealing of illegal cell towers in the city and insisted that it has a strong case.
The court has orally asked the MCD officials present in the court to stop the sealing drive -- which has been on since Wednesday -- till the date of next hearing on May 19.
City Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney said the civic agency will contest the stay order. "We have a strong case, we are on firm footing. Half of the city's cell towers have been erected illegally. The MCD has the right to take action as this has been a case of violation of rules," he told PTI.
"We will plead our case strongly during the next hearing," he said.
Hearing a petition by cell tower operators, the court earlier in the day also issued a notice to the MCD asking it to explain the reasons behind bringing in a new policy on the issue of regulating mobile towers in the capital.
Following formulation and subsequent implementation of the new policy for cell towers, owners of unauthorised towers were given a time period of one month to obtain permission from MCD which had expired on Friday last.
The MCD Wednesday sealed 24 illegal cell towers in central and south Delhi, initiating a drive against such structures after the expiry of the deadline.
There are 5,364 cell towers within MCD's jurisdiction. Of these, 2,412 have been erected with permission from MCD and 2,952 are illegal. MCD has already issued show-cause notice in case of 1,532 cell towers. It has sealed around 300 cell towers in past few months. However, 41 cell towers were de-sealed on compliance of formalities.
The new cellular tower policy was approved by the MCD House on March 16. According to the revised guidelines for cell towers, the amount payable by the service providers to MCD for installing a tower has been increased from the present Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, a clause which is being vehemently opposed by the operators.
The operators held a meeting yesterday with Sawhney and MCD officials but a solution could not be arrived at.
"We are quite willing to cooperate with the municipal authorities to resolve regularisation issues, but we feel the hiked installation charge is too much," Cellular Operators Association of India Director General Rajan S Mathews said.
"The fee was Rs 1 lakh which has suddenly been increased to Rs 5 lakh, which we think is not good for the industry," he said.
The Mayor had earlier said, "We do not want connectivity to be affected. People should not suffer. That is why we have extended the deadline for operators several times. But that they should not take as our weakness."